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Foot-in-Mouth or Tongue-in-Cheek? Iizuka Speaks On Sonic 4 Physics

When Sonic Team director Takashi Iizuka speaks, it’s usually confounding. Most people chalk his facepalm-worthy quotes up to a mistranslation.  That excuse has always been weak.  I don’t care if you’ve had a one-on-one interview with him in the past, making excuses for his excuses is weak  Scarred Sun has called-out Iizuka before for his consistently lame justifications for genuinely poor efforts.  If there’s any proof that Iizuka is a lazy, clueless director of this franchise, this quote is undeniable proof.

Nintendo Power finally nutted up and asked a question that was worth asking: “We enjoyed [Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1], but the physics felt a bit off compared to the Genesis games. Is that something you’ll look to tweak in future episodes?”  Iizuka’s answer:

In this title, we have not done a straight port of the gameplay [from the Genesis games], but rather updated it with actions which could not be done in the previous titles, like ceiling-running. These changes probably made for a different feel to the longtime Sonic fans. We’re happy for feedback like this, and we’ll make sure we can improve the quality even further in upcoming titles.

Yes.  The engine of Sonic 4: Episode 1, with all its negatives, has a positive and it’s something that you apparently couldn’t do in the previous games: ceiling-running.  Oh wait, you can do that in the 16-bit games.  What a great trade-off.  The game is constructed poorly to better suit a feature that was already in the game.  Iizuka was a level designer on Sonic 3 & Knuckles.  He didn’t know about the ceilings in that game?  I think I’m out of chain to yank.

It's not a bug. It's a feature!

Saying that Sonic Colors will be better than the original Sonic games? Sure, bro.  Next song. Saying that the 3D games are great and that it’s the fans’ fault for their failures?  Cry me a river, but whatever.  This ceiling-running bit?  That’s ridiculous.  The director of Sonic Team is indirectly admitting that he doesn’t understand or respect his franchise’s past when making a game that not only calls back to the franchise’s past, but is a sequel.

“Updated it?”  What’s improved in Sonic 4 over the games that came before it?  It’s inferior in every aspect of its design.  That’s not opinion. That’s fact.  You had “ceiling-running” before, you’re making a sequel and you decided to change everything?  What’s next?  “We updated the engine to remove gravity and momentum in order to make falling onto platforms much easier?”  I’m convinced that it was not a premeditated decision to make the game the way it turned out.  Iizuka is covering for the incompetence on the part of himself and his team at Dimps.  They, and probably SOJ as a whole, are too proud to admit falling well short of expectations.  Worst case scenario, they probably don’t think anything is wrong.

With him in charge, all of us are talking to a brick wall.   Don’t fall for his “we’re happy for feedback like this” comment.  He’s just covering up again, reaching for his best question-dodging response.  He never says that he will be making changes.  He’s just “happy” for the feedback that he shot down in that same sentence.

All of the desire and understanding that SEGA of America showed me and the other visitors at their HQ to improve future episodes will go to waste with Iizuka and his team in command.  SOA, who I believe is referred to as “SEGA Digital” now, should force their way into this conversation.  Sonic 4 is a digitally distributed game.  They shouldn’t just be messengers, relaying the valid input they’ve received over the past two months, they should be in the middle of development instead of being relegated to bad iPhone ports, browser games and American P.R./customer support.  Sonic is wildly more popular here in the west anyway.  Conversation between all of the branches of SEGA needs to improve, because it has been painfully obvious that nobody talks to each other, which affects the quality and perception of their titles.

Before commenters do their usual song and dance about how we shouldn’t care about what the director of Sonic Team has to say about Sonic 4‘s criticisms, let me remind you that he is the director of Sonic Team.  He’s not public relations, customer service or a community manager… he’s in charge and has the most influence on the series.  What he says carries the most weight and is indicative of how future titles will play out.  It is important.

Real talk.

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74 Comments

  • Reply

    At this point, I’m past the point of caring really. Though I don’t agree with all the “move on” sentiments. Just what is there to move on to? Another 100 pages of circlejerking for Ep 2? No thanks >_>

  • Reply

    I think I’ve just found a reason to go homicidal. Thanks SoJ!

  • Reply

    Sonic Colors.

    Real talk.

    • Reply

      We’re not talking about Sonic Colors. Real talk.

      • Reply

        They need to fuck Sonic 4 and do more what Sonic Colors did.

        Real talk.

        • Reply

          Yes.

        • Reply

          Anything that results in both digital cakes and 4.5 cakes is good in my book.

      • Reply

        I’m gonna reach for the ceiling
        Although it looks intimidating
        I’m gonna find my own way
        And take a chance on today

        The ceiling is so trite
        The changes don’t feel so right
        I never felt like this
        I’ll keep on running

        The ceiling is so trite
        The changes don’t feel so right
        Just take my hand
        We’re gonna reach for the ceiling
        Tonight…

        Tonight….

        Wake up living day by day.
        Do what I want, and I’ll do it my way
        The world is flying right below my feet”
        Got no regrets inside of me.
        Not looking back (Not looking back)
        Not giving up (Not giving up)
        Not letting go
        I’ll keep on running!

        I’m gonna reach for the ceiling
        Although it looks intimidating
        I’m gonna find my own way
        And take a chance on today

        The ceiling is so trite
        The changes don’t feel so right
        I never felt like this
        I’ll keep on running

        The ceiling is so trite
        The changes don’t feel so right
        Just take my hand
        We’re gonna reach for the ceiling

        Tonight…
        Tonight….

        I’ve got it in my sight.
        The changes don’t feels so right.
        Got my feet off the ground I’ll keep on running!

        Oh, I can feel it now.
        The changes all around
        Just take my hand we’re gonna reach for the ceiling…

        Just take the chance (Just take the chance)
        We’ll do it right again
        (I’m gonna reach for the ceiling)

        Just take my hand (Just take my hand)
        Just take the chance tonight…
        Reach for the ceiling…
        Tonight!
        Tonight…

        • Reply

          I love you.

        • Reply

          The idea’s perfect. Add some more things (BUGS), suddenly break melody with the Chorale theme (with lyrics)… and become a winner.

        • Reply

          Holy fuck, RS. Hahahahaha…

  • Reply

    Conversation between all of the branches of SEGA needs to improve, because it has been painfully obvious that nobody talks to each other, which affects the quality and perception of their titles.
    And history repeats itself. Real Talk.

  • Reply

    omfg missing period

  • Reply

    I call bullshot. He’s trying to cover his ass, and he’s pretty much what Sakomoto is to Metroid now (look at how poorly Other M turned out when he took the reigns?).
    I say ditch him and put someone else in control.
    “Improve the quality” is his code word for “Let’s make Sonic even floatier next time”

    • Reply

      Yeah, dude…uh…except Sakamoto never “took” the reigns of Metroid. He’s been in charge since day one, genius.

      • Reply

        Except he was never always credited with creating it, that was Gumpei Yokoi.
        Sakomoto has only even been credited as co-creating the series. Don’t make it sound like Yokoi was never involved in it.

        • Reply

          Is a “producer” the same thing as a creator? I’d say the director does more on the creative side of things, and Yoshio Sakamoto was credited as director on Metroids I, III, and IV. Not only that, but he co-created the character of Samus with Hiroji Kiyotake, Metroid’s original artist.

          I love how butthurt fans like to bring up the fact that Gunpei Yokoi created Metroid. I’d wager that 99% of them didn’t even know who Yoshio Sakamoto was before Other M.

  • Reply

    So, this is basically saying good ol’ classic Sonic physics (or improved physics even) don’t and won’t ever have even the slightest chance in the next episode(s) of Sonic 4 just because that butt bag is in charge?

    …Great. I just can’t help but wonder how he defines “quality” or “improve”.

  • Reply

    Oh guys, isn’t a thing of life or death. Yes, its important, but is more of the same. 

  • Reply

    And welcome back to another episode of “Iizuka says the darnedest things.”

  • Reply

    I just have one thing to say. Yuji Naka was the real genius creating the Sonic gameplay from the first Sonic and them on the others. Without him on Sonic Team we’ll see craps like that and maybe worst in the future. Real Talk

    • Reply

      Bzzzt. Naka programmed the engine; Yasuhara was the real genius behind the gameplay and design in the old games.

    • Reply

      Except we saw all the same crap while he was still with Sonic Team in the 2000s.

  • Reply

    Sega should just FIRE his ass, In any other company Iiazuka would have been fired for incompetence. Or is Sonic team so bad nowadays that they use it to punish crappy game makers at Sega?

  • Reply

    Can’t understand all the criticism on the physics. The game is fully playable and enjoyable. All I care ’bout…

    • Reply

      Totally agree with this, Sonic 4 is a blast to play. Mainly because you know, standing still on the tip of a slope is one of the essential gameplay mechanics of sonic games right?

      Real talk.

      • Reply

        You can deal with an inherent physics flaw. That’s fantastic for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Don’t let your own personal tolerance blind you to objective problems.

        • Reply

          As long as you’re not blinded, it’s perfectly fine to deal with such flaws, correct?

          For instance, I’m aware that Sonic 4’s physics are not as they should be, but I enjoy the game because I can actually PLAY the game and it’s FUN. It’s most certainly not the best, but still pretty cool.

  • Reply

    Indeed the originals could “ceiling-running”, but come on, this engine gave us “ceiling-moonwalk” something that none of us could ever dream of doing in the classic sonic games.

    • Reply

      Flying Battery Zone. Go play it again.

      • Reply

        [/hahahadisregardthatisuckcocks]

  • Reply

    He did not state – directly, or indirectly, that the physics would be addressed at all. This is my exact beef. The question (as stated in the above article) was this:

    “We enjoyed [Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1], but the physics felt a bit off compared to the Genesis games. Is that something you’ll look to tweak in future episodes?”

    Now this is a direct question addressing the physics of the game.

    Iizuka responded with:

    “In this title, we have not done a straight port of the gameplay [from the Genesis games], but rather updated it with actions which could not be done in the previous titles, like ceiling-running”.

    This first point made two things abundantly clear. They did not intend to return to the original gameplay, at all. They had already intended to make their own mark on the series, with some selective gameplay elements.

    I might add, nobody asked for a direct port. They asked for a direct sequel. The two things are very different, but ultimately linked very powerfully together.

    Iizuka then went on to say:

    “These changes probably made for a different feel to the longtime Sonic fans. We’re happy for feedback like this, and we’ll make sure we can improve the quality even further in upcoming titles”.

    Iizuka completely ignored the question. This was dodging the issue at its very best: he does not answer the question, nor does he mention or otherwise implicitly imply that physics would be looked at. The word is “Quality”, and that has all-reaching conclusions within the game. It can literally mean anything and everything from graphics to character models, to colours and even animations.

    But by addressing the question with the first statement:

    “updated it with actions which could not be done in the previous titles, like ceiling-running”

    He has in fact told us more than he would otherwise want us to. He does not believe that there are problems with the game’s engine, otherwise the word “updated” would not have been used.

    There is a specific, and deliberate use of the word there to enhance the view that there is nothing wrong with the game. This is probably the only thing which is NOT vague about this statement.

    To give a statement so vague, when asked a direct question, has the air of the politician about it. One who knows there is an issue, but will not address or otherwise comment on, said issue.

    That is my particular complaint. Iizuka did not answer the question posed to him, at all, and has actually confirmed to me that the management of this game is entirely to blame for its shortcomings. If the person in charge of programming this game will not entertain or answer questions as to its shortcomings, then we must ask, why does he not?

    And the only logical answer, which his increasingly arrogant responses are implying, is that he does not believe there are such problems with the game’s engine.

    For shame.

    Slingerland, brilliant article.

    • Reply

      Well said. And if he doesn’t see problems with the engine, I wonder how he blinded himself so much.

  • Reply

    It’s a good thing I’ve stopped caring for Sonic 4 than.

  • Reply

    It’s all fault of the P.R. team. We need more Britanic public relations employees, and less American P.R.
    Sonic Colors was a good game because the UK P.R. team bothered to actually get into contact with the developers, and give feedback of what we wanted in Colors, considering the things that were wrong in the early betas versions.
    The American P.R. team just ask for our feedback, and just put them in the “suggestions box,” never actually addressing them to anyone.

    • Reply

      Yes, it’s totally not possible that it’s the fault of the developers not listening to the feedback.

    • Reply

      Tro lo lo lo….

      No, dude. The “problem” with Sega of Japan i.m.h.o. is, put simply, it’s Japanese. Add the facts that:
      1) there are more differences between Western and Japanese culture than between Turkish and Scandinavian ones
      2) you understand other people’s sentences through means of your culture
      3) Sega is a big company, producing mainly those pinball-alikes, and almost not caring about Western divisions

      • Reply

        Sadly you seem to be 100% right on that -_-

        I wish some American or European developers would make the dang programming and the Japanese would stick to making graphics. SEGA of America/Europe would probably make the games feel better, while SEGA of Japan would probably make it LOOK better (HD Sonic 4 looks awesome but doesn’t play like it should :/)

  • Reply

    What a dick! maybe we should stop buying these offal games, starting NOW! and we meen it this time.

  • Reply

    *playing Sonic Adventure*
    *Open this*
    >Ceiling-running
    *closes this*
    *fucks not given

    • Reply

      *Playing Sonic Adventure*
      *Reads above statement*
      >fucks not given
      *Agrees*

  • Reply

    Ceiling-Running. Unbelievable. xD

    Real Talk.

  • Reply

    Can someone just beg them to abort Sonic 4? I really don’t want to see any additional episodes. Physics classes must blow in Japan. Here’s a protip: momentum is the product of mass and velocity. Could someone at least tell them that much so maybe Sir Isaac Newton can rest in peace.

  • Reply

    If Iizuka stays in charge Sonic’s signature power will be his gravity-defying moonwalk rather than running at the speed of sound.

    • Reply

      Hahaha!

      So true!

    • Reply

      lol

  • Reply

    Man, the Japanese are always fucking insane.

  • Reply

    even if you exit a second episode with physical failure, sonicretro sooner or later will change the game for that physics is equal to the era Genesis.
    especially considering that the second episode will be based on Sonic CD and sonic3&Knuckles  
    so I still have hopes of playing a sonic4 that honors the name of the classic series. one that is the foundation and the soul sonic series.
    made by Retro. or made by sega

  • Reply

    Iizuka Brain (battery low)
    Put the new battery for sonic 4 product and have a most important performance
    “use classic physics”
    “use classic physics”
    “use classic physics”
    True Story Bro.

  • Reply

    I don’t have problem with homing attack, with graphic, with sprites…
    The Physic kill 60% of game.

    • Reply

      This.

    • Reply

      LOL WUT?

      i think iizuka disguised himself as Lucas Hinz.

      • Reply

        The only thing I have no issue with in Sonic 4 is the homing attack being included. Other than that it’s terrible.
        Real talk.

  • Reply

    Honestly, the way the sonic series has gone over the last decade, I’m surprised is hasn’t crashed and burned yet.

  • Reply

    This was an excellent article. I feel like my comments aren’t necessary, I’m just saying you guys write excellent articles, both in terms of being well-written, humorous, and informative.

    Awesome job, this one was great.

    • Reply

      Were there any other guys there (oldjokesorry)

      • Reply

        WERE THERE ANY OTHER GUYS THERE…WERE THERE ANY OTHER GUYS THERE?

  • Reply

    sonic 4 sucks

    • Reply

      Real talk.

  • Reply

    Foot-in-Mouth or Tongue-in-Cheek?
    I say more Head-in-Ass.

    • Reply

      tuche.

  • Reply

    ” What’s improved in Sonic 4 over the games that came before it?  It’s inferior in every aspect of its design. ”

    Um, not EVERY aspect. The graphics seem to be a hell of a lot better, but that’s to be expected. Really, the only things that really bug me are the physics (small parts) and music (except Mad Gear <3), but unfortunately those are the bulk of a video game. So eah, that really fails.

    • Reply

      The graphics are better? The graphical styles of the characters and the environments don’t match. That’s an inconsistency. That’s inferior.

    • Reply

      Eh, most fans would disagree. I can’t stand the graphics. THey look terrible, to me.

    • Reply

      Graphics? Good? PFFT. The graphics are terrible.

  • Reply

    Fire Iizuka.

  • Reply

    Meh, I still have some hope in Iizuka :/.
    He can’t directly say the team did a bad job ’cause it would make things worse for Sonic sales.

    He said on the interview: “We’ll make sure we can improve the quality even further in upcoming titles”

    Well yeah, it shouldn’t be “EVEN FURTHER” but basicly fix a lot of things.
    But he said it, if he fails on episode II, my hope will be all gone.

    STILL, Sonic 4 is far better than having Sonic with a talking tampon.

  • Reply

    for those few who are saying to fire him, who the hell do you expect to put in his place? promote an “outstanding staff member”, who’s been listening to iizuka for the last god-knows-how-long? hire a random member of sonicretro? 

    actually, the latter sounds rather nice 😛

  • Reply

    Does anyone even care about sonic 4 anymore?

    Episode 2 is not going to see the light of day for the next year, who really cares about it anymore.

  • Reply

    Don’t you love how he’s such an idiot? “Sonic was never able to run on ceilings in the Genesis titles.” *ahem* *cough*Flying Battery Zone*cough*. Real talk.

    • Reply

      Sonic 3 = Sonic 4

      lolokay.

      I don’t care, the physics don’t bother me really. They’re pretty much like the game gear titles.

      I want Sonic 4 to be like triple trouble, what a dream.

  • Reply

    First Shigeru Miyamoto said no kremlings in Donkey Kong Country Returns. Then Retro studio’s said no water levels and now in Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Takashi Iizuka believes thier are no flaws in this game!! WTF is with Game developers and directors these days!? (JAPANESE Physics suck!)

  • Reply

    I give up. These people just cant figure out how to make a game. I suggest instead of circlejerking around the next episode, we WALK AWAY from this whole mess. These guys cant make a normal game right, so we had better not overload their massive brains with the task of fixing this series. They might just explode.

  • Reply

    Has anyone hacked Episode 1 yet so that they can\ make the physics actually be moreso like the classics? I would then call that THE REAL Episode 1.

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